What’s The Connection?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is classified as chronic acid reflux and is ranked as the most common GI diagnosis in outpatient care. It may not come as a surprise that the occurrence rate of GERD is increasing worldwide. Studies show that those with chronic conditions most frequently experience negative effects on stomach function. Symptoms of GERD are experienced in a range of severity from mild to tremendous discomfort. In serious cases, one may be diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, typified by permanent damage done to the esophagus due to long-term acid reflux.

Some experts consider GERD to be a red flag for a thyroid condition, and vice versa, yet physicians usually don’t address the relationship between the two. Excess stomach acid is often considered the culprit, but looking beyond heartburn commercials reveals the projected public perception can be contrary to the underlying physiology. When it comes to thyroid disease, it is easy for your thyroid doctor to focus solely on the hormone lab results and overlook the importance of digestive health , just as many doctors do. Yet by recognizing and acknowledging the conditions together, one can make great strides in overcoming them via individualized nutritional, hormonal and lifestyle modifications.

Low acid levels may also cause digestive dysfunction. Reduced digestive rate, known as dysmotility, increases the risk of harmful bacteria growth in the gut. This is frequently caused by reduced acid levels which allows food to remain in the stomach too long thereby allowing bacteria to grow. In addition, if food is not adequately digested when it reaches the intestine it can cause inflammation, leaky gut, and infection. These factors are significant contributors to autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s.

High digestive endoscopy and esophageal pH testing seem to be the most sensitive methods of diagnosing GERD (7) An endoscopy can also help to diagnose or rule out some other conditions such as a peptic ulcer, esophageal moniliasis, gastric cancer and eosinophilic esophagitis, all of which present with dyspepsia symptoms (7) GERD can be classified as non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) or erosive reflux disease (ERD) based on the presence or absence of esophageal mucosal damage seen on endoscopy (8) People with NERD frequently will have a negative endoscopy (9) Unlike those with erosive reflux disease, studies show that most NERD patients will not progress over time to erosive esophagitis or Barrett’s esophagus (9) Many people with NERD don’t respond to proton pump inhibitors.

Another consideration is the close relationship between stress , thyroid and the digestive tract. We all know that pit in our stomach or lump in our throat that can come with stress. Other effects of stress on the digestive tract aren’t as noticeable however. For instance, stress can contribute to leaky gut (intestinal permeability), which is associated with autoimmune disease and you can try these out symptoms that come with it. The thyroid is part of the HPAT-axis (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal-Thyroid-Axis). The thyroid and its symphony of hormonal functioning are also affected by stress since adrenals regulate stress response. Research findings have demonstrated improved outcomes when combining nutritional support for the adrenals and thyroid, rather than either one alone.

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